Newhaven: level crossing replacement in high risk rail-road area

edilon)(sedra have been awarded the contract to supply and replace an existing level crossing with a 48 m twin track level crossing at the docks in Newhaven, UK. The location of the crossing is considered a high risk rail-road area.

The secondary line level crossing in Newhaven docks is used by DMU passenger and freight aggregate traffic. The crossing is the only access to the large bulk handling area of the town’s docks. These docks have a very high volume of bulk aggregate materials arriving by ship with the majority leaving via the level crossing. The combination of the heavy loads, poor soil, poor drainage and nonperpendicular angle of the crossing to the road causes the road profile to deform into a high risk condition for road users. Complaints to the council on safety issues are a common occurrence.

The current level crossing is based on rubber panels and the substructure below is saturated marine alluvium with no identifiable drainage. The crossing is approximately 4 years old and unable to maintain its road profile. The angle of the level crossing is non-perpendicular to the road crossing. This generates damaging oscillating forces when the multiple axle road vehicles traverse the rubber units. During discussions between track owner NWR Sussex and edilon)(sedra it was agreed that the only viable, low risk and cost effective solution was to apply the pre-cast level crossing system Corkelast® LCS-350. The system is a development variation of the existing Harmelen crossing which is already approved by NWR.

Current rubber panel level crossing at the Newhaven docks

In this harsh environment, the proven advantages of Corkelast® LCS-350 were a defining factor in NWR opting for the system:

  • Poor ground conditions – Able to spread load over a large surface area decreasing the ground pressure to a minimum.
  • Fluid ground conditions – As the ballasted track has been removed and the system no longer requires tamping, the ground is, in all essence, sealed under the slabs creating a stable integrated platform which reduces the possibility of water “pumping”.
  • Damaging forces from road traffic – The use of larger heavy slabs makes the system more stable so the forces are dissipated before the effect can cause any damage.
  • Water causing corrosion – The rail is chemically bonded to the concrete and therefore protected against corrosion. No more steel fastenings are used that would suffer from accelerated corrosion due to the ever present water.
  • The rail is continually supported, which reduces the peak loading associated with a traditional sleeper track design during both train and road traffic.
  • A reduced risk to cyclists and pedestrians due to the smooth integration of the slabs with the road surface.
  • Asset life of 40 years and minimal maintenance interventions.

Drawing of the Newhaven project, showing the Corkelast® LCS-350 level crossings

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